This post first appeared at DarlingMagazine.org. It is part 1 in a series of 3
Barrier. Border. Extent. Limit. Line. Edge. Boundary. We all have them in our lives. It’s how much you will put up with before you reach your limit. The extent to which you will go for a friend. The edge of your personal bubble. The line that no one should cross if they don’t want to cross you. The boundary between what is acceptable and what is unsafe, abusive, intrusive, offensive, annoying, or insensitive. Boundaries in relationships help us stay balanced and regulate how much and how fast we share. They also keep us from allowing someone to take advantage of our generosity, our time, and our love.
There are emotional boundaries and physical boundaries. They can be anything from ”fighting fair,” to balancing how much time we spend on our relationships versus the rest of our lives. They can be the line that says we will never allow someone to physically hurt us, verbally abuse us, or sexually assault us. Ever. In romantic relationships, they can be in place to limit how physically intimate we allow ourselves to be with one another. Our boundaries should depend on the relationship, and how we view ourselves and the other person.
Low view of self or others translates to a low level of boundaries. Why? Because boundaries, borders, and limits are meant to protect, to guard. Why keep safe something you don’t value? Maybe you’ve convinced yourself you’re not worth protecting, that you deserve whatever you get. Or you see the other person only as a means to an end, there to meet your needs regardless of what it costs them. In relationships, boundaries provide the structure that keep them from imploding, exploding, or becoming smothered; within healthy limits they can truly grow.
Have you thought about your boundaries lately? Some of us are like Ft. Knox and need to relax a little so that our relationships can actually grow and people can get to know us. Others of us have never bothered to put up more than a thin rope, and wonder why we’re constantly getting run over and taken advantage of. Take the time to make sure you’ve got healthy, appropriate boundaries. And if you’re not sure what that looks like, ask another woman who seems to get it. You’ll thank yourself in the long run. And so will those around you.